We’re living through a period of intense tech development, but how will the next couple of decades change the way we live and work?
What are the sorts of innovations that will change the way we live over the next couple of decades? In terms of the home, we are already starting to see a lot more human-centric architecture and we’ll see homes and workplaces built for humans to thrive in
Traditionally, up to 20, or even 10 years ago, we were building homes for form. They had three bedrooms, a lounge room, and a kitchen, but it really didn’t take into account the way in which individuals lived.
Covid, especially, has really pushed this along, and rather than being somewhere people primarily sleep and spend weekends, the home is now a place in which we thrive, it’s a family space, it’s a work space. Home is now the centre from which the rest of our lives gravitate out from.
How does a home that’s built for thriving really differ from what we have today? The home will become hyper-personalised. It will morph to each person and each situation (btw, check out our home automation ideas post here).
Our smart homes today are static. So. for example, if someone in a wheelchair enters the kitchen, why can’t the benches drop down so they can use them? Why can’t the room with the TV in it darken automatically when we sit down to watch something?
What if a parent and baby come into a room why can’t the walls change colour and soothing music comes on? How about when you’re sleeping, the conditions of the room can be altered to optimise your sleep? Lights change, temperature changes, the bed itself changes to give you optimal comfort
How does that impact the buildings we live in? It means buildings become living things, rather than being passive, and we’re already seeing the early days of this. They do things, they talk to us, they change and morph according to what’s required. We’re already beginning to see some of this happen. Shutters on the outside of buildings that know the weather and can change accordingly.
Air conditioning units and windows that can open and shut to allow the breeze to come through. You have a building that recognises you and will understand who’s about to come into the building and what they need – it opens the garage door, turns on the lights, puts on the kettle; they become part of everyday life – they will do things based on your actions.
We’re now getting digital building twins’ – a complete digital replica of a building that people can access to deliver services – for example, fixing an air conditioning unit remotely rather than that person physically coming to your home.
Looking further ahead, what’s on the cards?
The next phase is buildings as extended places where our buildings really bring the outside world to us, and us to the outside world. The tip of that is what we’re seeing today – we’re able to sell our solar energy back to the grid but in the future, it will be able to do far more.
For example, it might shut the building down if it becomes aware of an incident down the road, because it reads the environment. It might understand transport and it might know someone’s approaching. It can guide them from their mode of transport and to the front door.
And what do you see happening in the workplace?
Workplaces will become a lot more fluid work. Works will be done where and when is appropriate, by people who are appropriate.
They will fall into three categories: the first two categories are full-time workers, the ones who carry the brand and the knowledge; the second, contingent workers, who’ll be part-time or freelance, and will be brought in for projects, based on their skill sets. The third category is technology, and that is intriguing for electricians because it embeds the smarts into the building.
Take teleworking we’ve been using technology that wasn’t built for the current situation; it’s old, and we’ll see greater advancement in virtual reality and augmented reality, which will be able to embed you in the physical reality of a building.
And what about the next ‘big’ thing? What’s that?!
The Metaverse. It’s the great-grandchild of the internet, but it’s completely different from the internet. The internet is very “dos’ based, you need to know what you’re looking for, you’ve got to use a keyboard, you can use your voice now.
But in the Metaverse, it’s going to be a reality: as a physical human, you’ll be able to disappear inside a screen, move around, manipulate what’s there. You’ll be able to jump into a screen and sit in a meeting with other people from aroud the world, around the same table.
We’ll be able to go and visit friends around the world while the whole room changes and morphs. This isn’t far away, five to 10 years – maybe closer to five now after Covid.